Is adult media inherently better than child media?

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Is adult media inherently better than child media?

Postby jewish_scientist » Fri Sep 28, 2018 6:37 pm UTC

To be clear, by adult media I mean media that gets a higher rating on the maturity scale (e.g. movies rated R and games rated M) and child media is media that has low ratings (e.g. movies rated G and games rated E). I will treat this as a binary, but really it is a continuum. If this really bother's you, pretend I am only talking about media at the extremes.

I think the answer is no because of how censorship works. Take a piece of adult media, remove inappropriate content, and you have child media. In other words:

A - I = C

Some algebra gets you:

A - C = I

In other words, the only difference between adult media and child media is inappropriate content. If the only different between adult media and child media is inappropriate content and adult media is inherently better than child media, then inappropriate content must have intrinsic value. An example of a work that has only inappropriate content is porn.

Long story short, if you think adult media is better than child media, then you are logically required to think porn has aesthetic valuable. This is proof reductio as absurdum that adult media is not inherently better than child media.
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Re: Is adult media inherently better than child media?

Postby Sizik » Fri Sep 28, 2018 6:48 pm UTC

jewish_scientist wrote:Long story short, if you think adult media is better than child media, then you are logically required to think porn has aesthetic valuable.

This is proof reductio as absurdum that adult media is not inherently better than child media.


There seems to be an unstated assumption introduced between these lines.
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Re: Is adult media inherently better than child media?

Postby ucim » Fri Sep 28, 2018 6:56 pm UTC

jewish_scientist wrote:Take a piece of adult media, remove inappropriate content, and you have child media. In other words:

A - I = C
That's not how it works.

Further, you are attempting to generalize ("media") something that only is valid on an individual ("this movie") level. Context is important, and neither "A" nor "I" nor "C" has any context.

The resulting syllogism is completely invalid.

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Re: Is adult media inherently better than child media?

Postby ijuin » Fri Sep 28, 2018 7:07 pm UTC

Porn or other “adult” media does not need to have much aesthetic value as long as it has entertainment value. Far more people are watching it for entertainment than as “art”.

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Re: Is adult media inherently better than child media?

Postby Weeks » Fri Sep 28, 2018 7:12 pm UTC

Sizik wrote:
jewish_scientist wrote:Long story short, if you think adult media is better than child media, then you are logically required to think porn has aesthetic valuable.

This is proof reductio as absurdum that adult media is not inherently better than child media.


There seems to be an unstated assumption introduced between these lines.
I don't know, there's some latin in there so it's probably correct.
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Re: Is adult media inherently better than child media?

Postby Pfhorrest » Fri Sep 28, 2018 7:15 pm UTC

Entertainment is an aesthetic quality.
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Re: Is adult media inherently better than child media?

Postby Zohar » Fri Sep 28, 2018 7:15 pm UTC

Your conclusion that they're not inherently better than each other is correct, but your reasoning is ridiculous. Why do you think the only type of "inappropriate for kids" content is porn? How are censorship laws and age rating in any way related to what is and isn't appropriate for kids to consume?
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Re: Is adult media inherently better than child media?

Postby elasto » Fri Sep 28, 2018 7:51 pm UTC

I try to have a movie night with my kids every so often. Since they are pre-teens I like to watch a movie once through myself before I show it to them.

Sure, crass sex and violence can disqualify a movie, but not because I consider sex and violence bad, but simply because I think my children would lack the emotional and intellectual capacity to process it in a way that would bring enjoyment rather than disturb or frighten.

But there can be other things too that might disqualify a movie to my mind, such as its theme or strength of emotional content. Some themes (ie. storylines) I might feel like they couldn't contextualise, and some emotional content might be too triggering - ie. give them nightmares.

Adult media is far richer than your 'equation' gives credit for, and the fact that the adult portions might overwhelm a child doesn't mean that content must be of negative value, it means it would be of negative value to a child. It can be of quite positive value to a well-balanced adult though - and not simply in terms of entertainment; It can also be highly thought-provoking.

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Re: Is adult media inherently better than child media?

Postby ijuin » Fri Sep 28, 2018 7:57 pm UTC

Zohar wrote: Why do you think the only type of "inappropriate for kids" content is porn? How are censorship laws and age rating in any way related to what is and isn't appropriate for kids to consume?


Perhaps it is because in the USA the merest hint of sex garners a higher age rating than the bloodiest of gory violence? Even the heaviest of violence never gets an NC-17 rating, yet any display of genitalia results in a minimum R rating.

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Re: Is adult media inherently better than child media?

Postby The Great Hippo » Fri Sep 28, 2018 7:58 pm UTC

Does anyone here genuinely think adult media is inherently better than children's media? Particularly since the only discernible difference between the two -- despite what jewish_scientist claims -- is that we've arbitrarily defined one as 'for adults' and the other as 'for children'?

This is like trying to argue that blue is not inherently superior to green, because green = blue + yellow. So clearly green contains blue and if you think blue is better that must mean you also think yellow's value is negative, and that's just dumb I mean c'mon who would assign a negative value to a color? Be reasonable, here!

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Re: Is adult media inherently better than child media?

Postby doogly » Fri Sep 28, 2018 8:15 pm UTC

It is a stunning feat to have incorrect premises, incorrect logic, and incorrect conclusion all in one post. Bravo.
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Re: Is adult media inherently better than child media?

Postby ijuin » Fri Sep 28, 2018 8:32 pm UTC

And, pray tell, how would one arrive at a correct conclusion when starting from incorrect premises?

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Re: Is adult media inherently better than child media?

Postby doogly » Fri Sep 28, 2018 8:35 pm UTC

ijuin wrote:And, pray tell, how would one arrive at a correct conclusion when starting from incorrect premises?

You could get to a conclusion that is correct *given* premises (but I dispute them), or you could get to a conclusion that is correct *given* certain logic (but ah you left something out), or something like this. Instead, there is novel wrongness with every line break in the original post, unprecedented by the prior wrongness.
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Re: Is adult media inherently better than child media?

Postby Weeks » Fri Sep 28, 2018 8:35 pm UTC

ijuin wrote:And, pray tell, how would one arrive at a correct conclusion when starting from incorrect premises?
https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/RightForTheWrongReasons

edit: ninja'd by the doog.
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Re: Is adult media inherently better than child media?

Postby elasto » Fri Sep 28, 2018 8:36 pm UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:Does anyone here genuinely think adult media is inherently better than children's media?

Well... yeah. Take Black Mirror for example. Genuinely thought provoking, very little sex and violence, but I'd be very selective as to which episodes to show my kids.

Go back a bit and you have stuff like The Wire. Yes there is some sex, violence and bad language in there, but it's mainly the themes covered that make it not suitable for kids - they'd either find them boring or frightening.

Or take something like House. No sex or violence there at all, but I wouldn't class it as 'kids media', and therefor by elimination it must be adult media. Thereby concluding that the difference between kids and adult goes way beyond some kind of crude 'age rating'.

Heck, where are psychological thrillers in all this? You can have a story with no violence at all, yet it could still give a kid nightmares.

Basically, adult media can have an intellectual depth than child media wouldn't have, simply because an eight-year old lacks the raw intellect of an 18-year old. So, yes, adult media can be better than child media.

(Is it inherently better? To take your paint example, it's like making a painting using all the colours rather than just limiting yourself to shades of orange.

Can you make a good painting with just oranges? Sure. But anything you can do with all oranges you can do if you open yourself up to all possible colours.

So, yes, adult media has more capacity for greatness than child media. Whether any individual adult or child movie is any good is of course all down to the particular execution.)
Last edited by elasto on Fri Sep 28, 2018 8:56 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Is adult media inherently better than child media?

Postby jewish_scientist » Fri Sep 28, 2018 8:56 pm UTC

I do not have time to make a full post to I will just really quickly make a response to these people.

Sizik wrote:
jewish_scientist wrote:Long story short, if you think adult media is better than child media, then you are logically required to think porn has aesthetic valuable.

This is proof reductio as absurdum that adult media is not inherently better than child media.


There seems to be an unstated assumption introduced between these lines.

Unless you are going to argue that porn intrinsically aesthetic value, I think the assumption holds.

ijuin wrote:Porn or other “adult” media does not need to have much aesthetic value as long as it has entertainment value. Far more people are watching it for entertainment than as “art”.

I am pretty sure that aesthetic value is entertainment value, unless you have some really odd theory of aesthetics you want to offer.

Zohar wrote:Your conclusion that they're not inherently better than each other is correct, but your reasoning is ridiculous. Why do you think the only type of "inappropriate for kids" content is porn? How are censorship laws and age rating in any way related to what is and isn't appropriate for kids to consume?

Porn is only an example. Censorship laws and age rating are a formal system society uses to define what is and is not appropriate for kids.
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Re: Is adult media inherently better than child media?

Postby elasto » Fri Sep 28, 2018 9:00 pm UTC

jewish_scientist wrote:I am pretty sure that aesthetic value is entertainment value, unless you have some really odd theory of aesthetics you want to offer.

I would say that something can be aesthetic without being entertaining (eg. a painting), and something can be entertaining without having much in the way of aesthetics (eg. porn).

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Re: Is adult media inherently better than child media?

Postby doogly » Fri Sep 28, 2018 9:12 pm UTC

Porn most certainly has a high aesthetic value. That is basically the entire appeal, really.
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Re: Is adult media inherently better than child media?

Postby Zohar » Fri Sep 28, 2018 9:18 pm UTC

jewish_scientist wrote:
Zohar wrote:Your conclusion that they're not inherently better than each other is correct, but your reasoning is ridiculous. Why do you think the only type of "inappropriate for kids" content is porn? How are censorship laws and age rating in any way related to what is and isn't appropriate for kids to consume?

Porn is only an example. Censorship laws and age rating are a formal system society uses to define what is and is not appropriate for kids.

You base your entire argument on a system that used to consider a mixed race couple kissing immoral. There is nothing about this system that we should use to determine quality or appropriateness by age.
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Re: Is adult media inherently better than child media?

Postby elasto » Fri Sep 28, 2018 9:29 pm UTC

js wrote:Censorship laws and age rating are a formal system society uses to define what is and is not appropriate for kids.


I just wanted to emphasise that sex, violence, bad language etc. are only some of the reasons media might be classified as not for kids. Much of the remainder is why adult media is, indeed, inherently better than child media (in the sense of having everything child media does and then a bit more).

Here is one small section of the BBFC guidelines (the organisation that rates films released in the UK):
Classification decisions will take into account the theme of a work, but will depend significantly on the treatment of that theme, and especially the sensitivity of its presentation. The most challenging themes (for example, drug misuse, sexual violence, paedophilia, racial hatred or violence) are unlikely to be appropriate at the most junior levels of classification. However, there is no reason in principle why most themes, however difficult, could not be presented in a manner which allows classification at 18 or even, where suitable, at lower levels.

The overall tone of a work may also affect the classification decision. While the presentation of specific issues, such as sex and violence, may not be problematic at a particular category, a work with a dark or unsettling tone may receive a higher classification. Other tonal considerations which might have an influence on classification include the extent to which the work presents a despairing view of the world or the extent to which transgressive or harmful behaviour is condoned or made to appear normal.

We take into account the impact of a work (i.e. how it makes the audience feel), for example in relation to horror films where threat may be more significant than the level of violence.

Where films are targeted at a younger audience, classification decisions will take into account factors such as the frequency, length and detail of scary or otherwise unsettling scenes as well as factors such as the impact of music and sound, and whether there is a swift and reassuring outcome. The classification of threat and horror will take account of the general tone, impact, realism and supernatural elements of a work as well as the level of detail in individual scenes. Fantasy settings may be a mitigating factor


In crude terms, adult-themed media can safely explore a much wider range of human situations than child-themed media can, and to much greater emotional depth.

It's not all about whether a nipple gets revealed or not like you seem to imply...

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Re: Is adult media inherently better than child media?

Postby Zohar » Fri Sep 28, 2018 9:32 pm UTC

elasto wrote:Basically, adult-themed media can explore a much wider range of human situations than child-themed media can, and to much greater emotional depth.
Wait, are you saying you've never seen an afterschool special about racism, sexual assault, or drugs? Lucky you. My point is, most topics covered by adults can be covered in child-targeted media. And your comment on the lack of emotional depth just proves you haven't seen the right media. Which is fine, of course, you can watch what you want, but there's plenty of good, deep, thought-provoking media "for children".
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Re: Is adult media inherently better than child media?

Postby Tyndmyr » Fri Sep 28, 2018 9:34 pm UTC

A particular adult work is not inherently superior to a child-friendly work.

But I'd hold that the domain encompassing adult work is inherently more virtuous than the domain that excludes it, being a superset of the latter.

I'm also curious about the idea that porn having value is absurd. If any category of media doesn't have value, why does it have viewers, and make money? Is it merely absurd because it isn't high art by some standard? I mean, I wouldn't call Thomas the Tank Engine high art either...

TLDR: Censorship is bad, and the MPAA is unjustified.

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Re: Is adult media inherently better than child media?

Postby Zohar » Fri Sep 28, 2018 9:43 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:But I'd hold that the domain encompassing adult work is inherently more virtuous than the domain that excludes it, being a superset of the latter.

"For children" is separate from "For adults" for most people. The vast majority of adults wouldn't even consider watching something like, say, Steven Universe or Avatar: The Last Airbender, solely because they are "children's cartoons". Most people will keep those firmly separate.
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Re: Is adult media inherently better than child media?

Postby Tyndmyr » Fri Sep 28, 2018 9:47 pm UTC

Well, if that's the definition we're using, then I have some trouble with "the only difference between adult media and child media is inappropriate content".

The common usage seems to be much more about the target audience than about censorship, whereas the OP seems to focus fairly heavily on what is inappropriate?

I mean, I guess with a few black bars and bleeps you could call Game of Thrones "child media", but that's fudging things a bit.

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Re: Is adult media inherently better than child media?

Postby natraj » Fri Sep 28, 2018 9:58 pm UTC

elasto wrote:stuff about how children's media is in fact inherently worse bc children are dumber


i feel like the thoughts in this post are made from a perspective that is so common as to be taken entirely for granted in society, so it isn't even spelled out. that perspective is based on a few underlying assumptions, but all of them are terrible, and all of them are kind of intertwined like...

as a society we dehumanize and devalue children.

i have A Lot of feelings about this, and i know the post was about media specifically but i think it's hugely reflective of the ways we think of children & their needs and emotions overall. we assume that their inner lives are just /less/ than that of adults; less complex, less /important/, less worthy of consideration and examination.

part of it is because children are "less smart" than adults in some of the ways that we quantify and prioritize "intelligence" and THEREFORE by extension we decide that they are less valuable in a lot of ways relating to their emotions, thoughts, and needs.

this whole post is built on the assumption that if it is /complicated in ways an adult would grasp but a child would not/, then it has more intellectual depth /and as a result more value/. it just takes that as a given without actually proving it.

why does it have to be important to adults in order to have value? why do we need to prioritize one specific form of complexity in order to have "depth"? there is such a vast trove of meaning available in children's media -- the kind that resonates with children and adults alike AND the kind that speaks to children but not adults. those are both important, and i don't think we should dismiss a piece of media simply because it is intended to entertain, educate, or speak to children alone.

(okay outside of the axis of devaluing children, i'm also kind of hung up on the question of "can you make a good painting with just oranges" like?? yes?? do you anything about art? there are entire movements of photography and painting that have been focused on exploring the depth that art gets if you LIMIT the range of colours available? this painting analogy is whole entire nonsense?)
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Re: Is adult media inherently better than child media?

Postby The Great Hippo » Fri Sep 28, 2018 10:09 pm UTC

EDIT: Ninja'd by natraj >_>

elasto wrote:Basically, adult media can have an intellectual depth than child media wouldn't have, simply because an eight-year old lacks the raw intellect of an 18-year old. So, yes, adult media can be better than child media.

(Is it inherently better? To take your paint example, it's like making a painting using all the colours rather than just limiting yourself to shades of orange.

Can you make a good painting with just oranges? Sure. But anything you can do with all oranges you can do if you open yourself up to all possible colours.

So, yes, adult media has more capacity for greatness than child media. Whether any individual adult or child movie is any good is of course all down to the particular execution.)
There's a lot to unpack here; more than I think I'm currently capable of doing. But to summarize a few quick bullet points:
  • Children's media only lacks the potential "intellectual depth" of adult media if you presume that the only type of "intellectual depth" that matters is the type exhibited by stories like The Wire. You could write a doctorate thesis on the intellectual and thematic depth of something like Avatar: The Last Air-Bender. The fact that no one's allowed to say "fuck" in it in no way limits its intellectual or thematic scope.
  • Even the act of comparing something like The Wire to Avatar is intrinsically silly, of course; children's media and adult media are targeting different audiences and exploring different themes. Saying one has more potential than the other for intellectual depth is like saying apples have more potential flavor quotient than oranges. Neither intellectual depth nor flavor quotient are scalar values.
  • The reason we'd presume something like The Wire has more 'intellectual depth' is because we prioritize the validity and importance of adult narratives over childhood narratives (specifically, we prioritize the experiences of adults over children). This is an ongoing problem in the field of education: People think children's experiences matter less.
  • Art isn't math. Restricting yourself -- placing limitations on what you can and can't do -- can actually vastly improve your work. Otherwise, you might as well argue that The Starry Night has limited its potential artistic depth on account of how it limits itself to an impressionistic style, or because it uses pretty much just the colors "blue" and "yellow".
  • Hopefully, this doesn't all come off as antagonistic, but I want to re-iterate: This mindset (that art can be treated like math; that enforcing limitations on your art reduces its potential; that if your art targets children, it limits its potential for intellectual depth) is an ongoing theme you see among STEM-types and their approach to art. Hence I will re-iterate: Art is not math. Math can be a part of art, but art itself is not subject to the rules or limitations of mathematics.
Last edited by The Great Hippo on Fri Sep 28, 2018 10:11 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Is adult media inherently better than child media?

Postby Zohar » Fri Sep 28, 2018 10:11 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:Well, if that's the definition we're using, then I have some trouble with "the only difference between adult media and child media is inappropriate content".

Which is why I said that's a stupid classification system right in my first comment.
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Re: Is adult media inherently better than child media?

Postby Tyndmyr » Fri Sep 28, 2018 10:15 pm UTC

Ah, fair enough, we're on the same page then.

If we label them, perhaps, censored vs uncensored media, we might better approximate what he's after? So it boils down to "censorship is good because porn is bad"?

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Re: Is adult media inherently better than child media?

Postby elasto » Fri Sep 28, 2018 10:33 pm UTC

Zohar wrote:Wait, are you saying you've never seen an afterschool special about racism, sexual assault, or drugs?

Of course I have. They are invariably extremely shallow - covering nothing of the complexity of, say, institutional racism, if drunken sex crosses the line into being non-consensual, or whether drugs should be legalised. Heck, most adults lack the emotional maturity to debate such topics without being triggered.

I am someone who has had conversations with my pre-teen child about whether drugs should be legalised, warning her that her school will teach her extremely over-simplistic notions of 'right' and 'wrong' when it comes to drugs, and, believe me, whilest she's pretty smart, the subtle nuances are, I believe, right now beyond her.

And your comment on the lack of emotional depth just proves you haven't seen the right media.

Of course some child-rated media can have emotional depth. Take Inside Out for example.

It's the combination of the two (adult topics delivered with a high emotional punch) that child-rated media cannot have - at least not without risk of damage to a child's psyche. My child will have nightmares if she watches the wrong kind of film. It's just inane to think that children have the same emotional resilience as adults.

@natraj: I feel you are misunderstanding me. I'm not saying child-rated media can't have huge value, just like paintings made just of orange can't have huge value. I'm simply saying that a painter who has access to all colours can make a body of work with at least as much value as a painter with access to only orange - not least because he can choose to limit himself to only orange. But he can also make a painting exploring the interplay between orange and blue.

And unless you feel like the interplay between colours has no value, then that body of work as a whole must sum to something greater.

Hippo wrote:Children's media only lacks the potential "intellectual depth" of adult media if you presume that the only type of "intellectual depth" that matters is the type exhibited by stories like The Wire. You could write a doctorate thesis on the intellectual and thematic depth of something like Avatar: The Last Air-Bender. The fact that no one's allowed to say "fuck" in it in no way limits its intellectual or thematic scope.

Where did I say that child-media can't have depth? Of course it can. It's just that adult-media can explore topics that child-media really can't - for example someone getting raped triggering a death-spiral of self-harm, or exploring themes of torture or warcrimes.

It's not about whether one can say 'fuck' or not in a film! Jesus!

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Re: Is adult media inherently better than child media?

Postby natraj » Fri Sep 28, 2018 10:41 pm UTC

obviously adult media can cover some different topics than child media, but that doesn't inherently follow that that makes it better. (also, children's media absolutely can cover topics of sexual assault, and there's enormous value in managing to do so in ways that make it both accessible and relevant and understandable to children who have been impacted by it.)

paintings done in greyscale or black and white photography don't have less value than ones done in a range of colour that's so mind bogglingly ludicrous. i agree, they can make a body of work with at least as much value, they're just exploring a different style of art. someone exploring the interplay between orange and blue can't explore the nuance in monochrome.

the fact that adult media can and does touch on a different swath of topics doesn't mean that those topics are /better/. and being able to deal with issues that have emotional import in ways that are meaninful to children and have depth is, in itself, something that requires great care and skill that a lot of people who work exclusively in adult media are incapable of. it doesn't mean their art is "better" or "worse" than people who make phenomenal children's media. it means they both are working in different mediums that require different skillsets.
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Re: Is adult media inherently better than child media?

Postby elasto » Fri Sep 28, 2018 10:51 pm UTC

obviously adult media can cover some different topics than child media, but that doesn't inherently follow that that makes it better.


I don't think we're disagreeing on anything other than the definition of 'better'.

I consider a body of work that fully explores monochrome and colour as better than one that explores either on its own. That doesn't mean that monochrome is better than colour, or that colour is better than monochrome. That's just silly. Except, of course, that colour is really a superset of monochrome, mathematically speaking. Though I accept that most people don't think of it that way.

Likewise, I consider a body of work that includes adult-media and child-media as better than one that only contains one or the other. Except, of course, that adult-media is really a superset of child-media, mathematically speaking. Though I accept that most people don't think of it that way.

(And, sorry, you'll never persuade me that my child is emotionally capable of watching all the movies out there, even excluding all the ones with any sex or violence in. There's countless films I'd rule out before I began ruling out ones with sex or violence. And ruling out films with bad language would be waay down on that list. Yet many of these films I consider to hold a lot of value.)

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Re: Is adult media inherently better than child media?

Postby The Great Hippo » Fri Sep 28, 2018 10:58 pm UTC

elasto wrote:Where did I say that child-media can't have depth?
No where. I didn't say you did.

You said children's media can't explore the same topics as adult media, and therefore can't have the same amount of intellectual depth. That's the point I addressed; that intellectual depth isn't a scalar value, and there are themes you can explore in children's media that you can't explore in adult media (and even if there weren't, this still wouldn't mean that adult media inherently has a greater capacity for depth).

elasto wrote:Jesus!
I understand that you're frustrated, and maybe my relative exhaustion is making it difficult for me to express my points politely (or even perceive where I'm being frustrating)? If that's the case, I apologize; I don't think I'm saying anything controversial or hostile, but maybe I'm being oblivious.

That being said, I don't think I'm misrepresenting your position -- your position is that adult media has greater potential for intellectual depth because there are things you can do with it that you can't do with media for children. My point is that there are things you can do with media for children that you can't do for adults -- and even if this were not the case, limiting yourself to the expressionism of children can lead to a different type of intellectual depth not possible in an adult narrative.
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Re: Is adult media inherently better than child media?

Postby elasto » Fri Sep 28, 2018 11:07 pm UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:You said children's media can't explore the same topics as adult media, and therefore can't have the same amount of intellectual depth. That's the point I addressed; that intellectual depth isn't a scalar value, and there are themes you can explore in children's media that you can't explore in adult media (and even if there weren't, this still wouldn't mean that adult media inherently has a greater capacity for depth).

Sorry, my child can't watch a realistic rape or torture scene and not be affected by it, but I can.

Nor can my child appreciate the complex thoughts and feelings going through a warped parent's mind when choosing to honor-kill their raped daughter.

So adult-themed media can have greater emotional and intellectual content, and therefore overall greater value. But I say this because I think that there's nothing in child-media that adult-media can't do at least as well, at least in theory.

elasto wrote:Jesus!
I understand that you're frustrated, and maybe my relative exhaustion is making it difficult for me to express my points politely (or even perceive where I'm being frustrating)?

Actually that was a joke :D Just a little poke at some (not you I'm sure) who seem to paint adult-themed as being nothing other than child-themed plus the addition of a swear-word :D Yes, there is definitely media that is made worse by being turned into adult-only...

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Re: Is adult media inherently better than child media?

Postby Weeks » Fri Sep 28, 2018 11:18 pm UTC

elasto wrote:Sorry, my child can't watch a realistic rape or torture scene and not be affected by it, but I can.

Nor can my child appreciate the complex thoughts and feelings going through a warped parent's mind when choosing to honor-kill their raped daughter.

So adult-themed media can have greater emotional and intellectual content
The point is that "greater emotional or intellectual content" is not the same as "having complex thoughts about rape or torture". Child-media can explore topics that adult-media cannot.

I say this because I think that there's nothing in child-media that adult-media can't do at least as well, at least in theory.
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Re: Is adult media inherently better than child media?

Postby The Great Hippo » Fri Sep 28, 2018 11:21 pm UTC

elasto wrote:Sorry, my child can't watch a realistic rape or torture scene and not be affected by it, but I can.

Nor can my child appreciate the complex thoughts and feelings going through a warped parent's mind when choosing to honor-kill their raped daughter.
Similarly, you are incapable of watching a movie about Santa Claus from the perspective that Santa Claus is real. You can simulate that belief, possibly even understand it intellectually; however, you can't *experience a movie* that way. Just as there are things you can appreciate that your children can't, there are things your children can appreciate that *you* can't.

But more to the point: Media targeting children can accomplish certain things narratively that adult narratives cannot, simply because an adult narrative doesn't permit certain types of stories to be credible. Adult stories reference adult experiences. Children's stories reference children's experiences.

Thinking adult media is inherently capable of greater emotional and intellectual content presumes adults are capable of greater intellectual and emotional experiences. Children experience a lot more than we might think; those experiences are just as real to them as ours are to us. Judging one to be of greater depth than the other is dangerous.

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Re: Is adult media inherently better than child media?

Postby LaserGuy » Fri Sep 28, 2018 11:22 pm UTC

jewish_scientist wrote:Long story short, if you think adult media is better than child media, then you are logically required to think porn has aesthetic valuable. This is proof reductio as absurdum that adult media is not inherently better than child media.


This is a logical fallacy. First, there's no reason in particular that you can't argue that porn has aesthetic value. Even if it were the case that porn didn't have aesthetic value, porn isn't the only kind of content that is mature, so this isn't really a relevant example. Actually, I think if anything this probably supports the opposite point, which is that since there is more freedom of expression in adult media, it is inherently better.

I guess there's an obvious question here: better for whom? On balance, I think that children's content is probably better for children and adult content is probably better for adults. If you're a parent and have had to sit through a bunch of episodes of Peppa Pig or Paw Patrol every afternoon, you may feel inclined to gouge your eyes out; your four year-old child may think that this is pinnacle of entertainment value. Conversely, a movie like Memento or Inception may be a great movie for adults, but the complexity of the story structure is likely to render it incomprehensible to younger children, even though those movies aren't particularly "adult". Now of course, there's some children's content that is awful, but there's some adult content that is awful too so I think that's kind of a wash.

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Re: Is adult media inherently better than child media?

Postby The Great Hippo » Fri Sep 28, 2018 11:58 pm UTC

Also, can I just point out --
elasto wrote:or exploring themes of torture or warcrimes.
-- that this is wrong? These are themes children's media explores. Maybe not with the same degree of detail as adult-oriented media, but here are just a few examples from Avatar: The Last Air-Bender:

  • Genocide (the Fire-nation's extermination of the Air Nomads). Pretty sure that qualifies as a war-crime.
  • Attempts by the government to cover this genocide up (Aang corrects the teacher who mentions the Air Nomad as the aggressors)
  • The murder of Katara's mother (pretty sure that's also a war-crime).
  • State-mandated torture and brain-washing (the Earth Kingdom's Dai Li).
  • Violent ethno-nationalism and racism (the Fire Nation).
  • Prison torture (what the Fire Nation did to the water benders -- the episode with the blood-bender lady).

I mean, you're not wrong to say that there are places where children's media doesn't go, but I think you're glossing over a lot of places it does go.

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Re: Is adult media inherently better than child media?

Postby elasto » Sat Sep 29, 2018 12:07 am UTC

Weeks wrote:Child-media can explore topics that adult-media cannot.

How so? If we define adult-media as something that would be rated as 18+, then please tell me a topic that an 18+ rated movie couldn't cover.

TGH suggests the topic of Santa Claus, but why couldn't an 18+ rated movie have Santa Claus in?

TGH wrote:Similarly, you are incapable of watching a movie about Santa Claus from the perspective that Santa Claus is real. You can simulate that belief, possibly even understand it intellectually; however, you can't *experience a movie* that way. Just as there are things you can appreciate that your children can't, there are things your children can appreciate that *you* can't.

But that's an intrinsic quality of the watcher, not an intrinsic quality of the media. A child could watch an adult movie containing Santa Claus and experience that movie differently to me too. That says nothing about the relative value of [child-media consisting of child themes] vs [adult-media consisting of adult and child themes]...

I mean, you're not wrong to say that there are places where children's media doesn't go, but I think you're glossing over a lot of places it does go.

Again, I think you're glossing over how I say that adult-media is complex issues with a gut-wrenching emotional punch*.

If the issue isn't complex or the punch not gut-wrenching then, sure, child-friendly media could most likely handle it without the kid ending up needing to sleep with the light on. It's the combination that risks being overwhelming to some, and obviously not all underage kids...


*I mean, not all adult-media is complex or gut-wrenching. Sometimes it's just porn. But a subset of adult-media is, and that's the part I am using to make my argument.

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Re: Is adult media inherently better than child media?

Postby The Great Hippo » Sat Sep 29, 2018 12:20 am UTC

elasto wrote:But that's an intrinsic quality of the watcher, not an intrinsic quality of the media. A child could watch an adult movie containing Santa Claus and experience that movie differently to me too. That says nothing about the relative value of [child-media consisting of child themes] vs [adult-media consisting of adult and child themes]...
Whether or not that's true, that's not relevant. I was only pointing out that just as there may be facets of a story only an adult can appreciate, there may be facets of a story only a child could appreciate. This was just an aside, and not central to my point (that is what I meant in the next paragraph when I said "But more to the point").
elasto wrote:Again, I think you're glossing over how I say that adult-media is complex issues with a gut-wrenching emotional punch.

If the issue isn't complex or the punch not gut-wrenching then, sure, child-friendly media could most likely handle it without the kid ending up needing to sleep with the light on. It's the combination that risks being overwhelming to some, and obviously not all underage kids...
No -- in that quote, I was just pointing out that you are objectively wrong when you claim that children's media can't explore themes such as war-crimes and torture. It can, and it does. I gave some examples of it doing just that.

Avatar: The Last Air-Bender deals directly with the genocide of Aang's people. This genocide (and the way he interacts with and contextualizes this event) is an ongoing theme throughout the piece. Similarly, the blood-bender's torture has done tremendous damage to her psychological well-being (to the point of committing torture herself), as has Jet's (to the point where it leads ultimately to his death).

If you want to argue that war-crimes and torture aren't explored as thoroughly in children's media, that's a different argument. But you said they aren't explored at all.

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Re: Is adult media inherently better than child media?

Postby elasto » Sat Sep 29, 2018 2:06 am UTC

Wait. I think the penny has dropped for me.

Some people are interpreting the OP like this: "Is media designed for adult consumption of more intrinsic worth than media designed for child consumption?"

Well, obviously not. That'd be like saying "Is media designed for male consumption of more intrinsic worth than media designed for female consumption?"

That'd just be absurd.

However, the OP wasn't talking in those terms. Remember, his opening sentence was: "To be clear, by adult media I mean media that gets a higher rating on the maturity scale (e.g. movies rated R and games rated M) and child media is media that has low ratings (e.g. movies rated G and games rated E)"

Hence, the question is not as written above; Instead it is this: "Is media rated R/M of more intrinsic worth than media rated G/E?"

And I'd argue strongly yes! Since media rated R/M can cover every topic to every depth that media rated G/E can - and then R/M media can explore some additional topics, and to some additional depths that G/E can't. That gives it more intrinsic worth*. To argue otherwise you'd have to claim that, for example, there'd be no possible way to give A:TLAB more depth by adding elements that would make it end up with an R rating. (Remember, R ratings, in the UK at least, aren't just about sex/violence/swearing but about themes.)

If thing A can do everything that thing B can, but it can do other things also, then it is of more worth. eg. If your computer can run every game ever made, and mine can only run half of them, then your computer is of more intrinsic worth than mine.

So, yeah, I don't disagree with any of the points you make. I think I have just been considering the question more literally than some.


*overall... Obviously in any specific instance a particular G/E media might have high intrinsic worth and a particular R/M media low intrinsic worth...


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